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Murphy's Story: The catalyst for becoming a dog behaviourist

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

We did our research with Murphy and if you’ve read Dukes story in my blogs, you’ll know why. We wanted a crossbreed because of all the health issues that pedigrees have these days, especially Bulldogs. We didn’t want to give any money to a puppy farm and so were pleased when we found a lovely family who had just had a litter of Bulldogs cross Old Thyme English Bulldogs.

By now, because everyone that we knew saw the results that we got with our other dog, Dukes, I became the unofficial ‘Dog Whisperer’. I helped my friends, family and colleagues train their dogs to become calm and balanced. However, Murphy was a dog that was just out of control. He was big and strong even at 12 weeks, and grew to 30kg by the time he was just 9 months old.

Although I had lots of experience dealing with all the normal puppy and dog training needs, I’d never worked with a dog that was chewing up the whole kitchen when we went out!

The breeder had set up a WhatsApp group for everyone who took home one of the pups, 10 pups in total in the litter. It was clear to see that most of them were having issues with their puppies as well. On further investigation with the breeder, I found out that the bitch who had the litter was a very nervous dog. This is a huge red flag in the world of breeding!

No breeder should ever breed with a nervous or aggressive bitch. Why?

Nervous bitches = A mother who often doesn’t give their pups the discipline that they need in their critical period (weeks 4-16) meaning they’re hard to train later in life and often just do what they want.

Aggressive bitches = A mother who is often too aggressive with their pups meaning they often end up anxious, fearful and withdrawn dogs later in life.

Here we go again... we knew we had to get a Dog Behaviourist No 2!

The Dog Behaviourist came to our home and educated us with exactly what we needed to do with Murphy to stop his destructive behaviour. This included a diet change, more mental stimulation, a change in our relationship with him and a very important change to his environment (our kitchen). The destructive behaviour was pretty much sorted within a week.

It was at this point after seeing the results that we got with Murphy and how we turned a destructive dog into a calm dog that I decided to make a career change become a qualified Dog Behaviourist. I just love working with dogs with behavioural problems and seeing them become calm and balanced. Having lived with dogs with severe behavioural problems, I know how stressful it can be going for a walk with them or even just having guests over. However, when you know how to get your dog calm in these situations, the stress immediately gets taken away from everyone involved including the dog(s) in question.

That wasn’t it with Murphy though, because I was working with not just a stubborn Bulldog but I was also working with a stubborn Bulldog that didn’t get the discipline that he needed from his mother, as well as being the biggest in the litter and getting his own way all the time! Even with all my experience, this made him incredibly hard to train because he just did what he wanted to do, all of the time!

Luckily, I was well into my Dog Behaviourist qualification by this point. As I knew what he needed and how to work with him, I was able to get outstanding results (see video). I look at Murphy like a finely tuned canine now and if he doesn’t get the right balance that he needs from his diet, exercise, mental stimulation, owners influence and his environment, his behaviour noticeably changes within just a few days. Murphy’s behaviour at 50% is uncontrollable, however, Murphy’s behaviour at 90% makes him a fantastic family dog that everyone loves being around.

Still to this day he challenges me, usually when I’m with a client and want to showcase him saying, ‘Look how well trained he is; Murphy come!’ - he just looks at me and goes off in a different direction. With another ‘Murphy come’ he usually listens and reluctantly comes back to my side. Only the other day he jumped up to grab some food out of my hand which is a really easy unwanted behaviour to stop with most dogs. I looked at him and thought ‘here I am fully qualified to make you extremely well behaved and you’ve just done that’ as my eyes rolled back into my head in disapproval!

Murphy also suffers with anxiety when his pack splits up (my wife and I) and he whines when we leave him in the car for the first minute or so and he’s noticeably anxious when one of us goes off to get a beer in the pub. However, because we know what to do the anxiety doesn’t last long. In the wrong hands and over time Murphy’s anxiety could easily escalate to self-harm and destructiveness.

The point is that I’m a Dog Behaviourist and will never get Murphy to 100%. However, he could be in a whole world of trouble in the wrong owner’s hands. He’s as good as we’ll get him and we love him all the same.

Unfortunately, two of Murphy’s brother were put down before they were even 18 months old due to aggression. It just goes to show that the wrong dog really can end up with the wrong owner. If his brothers who were put down were living with me, the facts are that they would not be aggressive and they would still be alive today.

Kobe’s story

It’s pretty simple really - he came from a breeder who knew what they were doing and he’s a very calm and balanced dog because we’ve always given him what he needs to remain calm and balanced. We have a different relationship with Kobe than we do with Murphy, and Kobe gets away with more because it doesn’t affect his overall behaviour.

Kobe doesn’t need a behaviour modification plan to remain the awesome dog that he is. In fact, I reckon that you could put him into most environments and it wouldn’t affect his overall behaviour. For this reason, I trained him up to become a therapy dog and give the elderly some well needed companionship. We sometimes wonder if he prefers his time snuggled up on the sofa with them than being at home with us.

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